Fake News

 

Remarkable, isn’t it, that Donald Trump has made decrying “fake news” his calling card? Is the press hostile to him? Sure. Do they lie about him? For the most part, no. Then again, the truth is not everyone’s friend. As William Randolph Hearst once quipped: “If Mr. Hughes will stop telling lies about me, I’ll stop telling the truth about him.” Or, even better, William F. Buckley said of Gore Vidal: “Anyone who lies about him is doing him a favor.”

On his visit to Iraq, the president lied to the troops. How can you claim to honor people you are lying to? Lying signals contempt. “We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, ’cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

Sure. Here’s the Pentagon’s online account of pay raises over the past 10 years. The military received raises each year for the past 10 years.

Mr. Trump wasn’t finished. “They had plenty of people that came up, they said, ‘You know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3 percent, we could make it 2 percent, we could make it 4 percent,'” Trump told the troops about the latest pay raise. “I said, ‘No. Make it 10 percent. Make it more than 10 percent.'”

The late William Safire once wrote a column about his old boss, Richard Nixon, who had a weakness for claiming that aides had counseled him to “take the easy way out.” Safire joked (I’m paraphrasing) “Yes, I’m the one. I always proposed that he do the expedient thing, not the right thing.”

Trump takes the Nixon tick to new levels. The Boy Scouts claimed his speech to the jamboree was the greatest ever. The NFL called to agree that the timing of a presidential debate was terrible. Federal workers have been ringing him up to say “Keep the government closed,” though they are working without pay. What a lively phone life he has.

Anyway, did Trump request a 10 percent pay increase for the troops? No. Trump’s administration requested an increase of 2.1 percent for 2018. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act which included a 2.4 percent raise. In 2019, the troops will receive a 2.6 percent increase, which is the largest in nine years. But, even in the Trump era, 2.6 is not 10.

Speaking of previous efforts to visit Iraq that had been thwarted by security concerns, the president complained: “Pretty sad when you spend $7 trillion in the Middle East and going in has to be under this massive cover . . .”

It’s not the first time Mr. Trump has used this figure. On the campaign trail, he used to say that we had spent $6 trillion in the Middle East (“that’s trillion with a t”). And then, one day, he just began to say $7 trillion. And there it has remained. Don’t be surprised if it goes to $8 trillion when the mood suits him. Who says the inflation rate is low?

In 2014, the Congressional Research Service put the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts at $1.6 trillion. When questioned about the $7 trillion figure, the White House pointed to a paper by Boston University political scientist Neta Crawford. Her work factored together a great deal more than spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. She focused on all of our post-9/11 spending including not just the wars in those two countries, but also State Department and Agency for International Development spending, homeland security expenditures, and war-related veterans care and disability expenses. Still, even adding all of those extras into her calculations, she arrived at a figure of $3.6 trillion by 2016. She then also added something more – the cost of caring for veterans stretching into 2053, and “additional cumulative interest on past appropriations” to reach the number $8 trillion over 35 years.

Those are some loosey goosey numbers. But even assuming total good faith on Crawford’s part, and assuming Mr. Trump is even aware of her, he is grossly distorting her work. He constantly asserts that we’ve already spent $7 trillion on wars in the “Middle East,” not that our total post-9/11 expenditures on defense, diplomacy, homeland security, and veterans care until 2053 may add up to that.

So even while visiting the troops — a good deed — he managed to soil it by flinging lies in all directions.

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  1. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Good piece. I admire your tenacity, Mona. I don’t always with everything you say or write. But, no matter how much heat you get for these columns, you always tell it the way you see. Bless you!

    • #1
  2. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Mona Charen: Do they lie about him? For the most part, no.

    Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime

    This lie is still up on their webpage.

    Edit. Looks like they changed the headline and the link.

    Here are the new ones.

    Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops on or before Christmas

    I didn’t think they could be more petty. Looks like I was wrong.

    • #2
  3. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Trump is not sufficiently versed in details to lie about budgetary matters. He is simply indifferent to accuracy as a norm.

    The level of indignation in this post is unwarranted.

    When people who craft the specifics of a policy (the “savings” from Obamacare or the climate impact of the Paris Agreement) toss out bogus numbers, that’s lying. 

    Trump is more like PT Barnum than Bernie Madoff. Most of us understand that and factor accordingly without personal drama in large part because we do not bear the burden of self-conscious NeverTrumpism which apparently requires a sustained state of indignation. 

    • #3
  4. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Trump is more like PT Barnum than Bernie Madoff. Most of us understand that and factor accordingly without personal drama in large part because we do not bear the burden of self-conscious NeverTrumpism which apparently requires a sustained state of indignation. 

    I agree with this.  It seems with him to be about how things seem….everything is the BIGGEST, the WORST….whatever.  I’m not really defending it, Trump just seems to have little knowledge or for that matter interest in facts.  It’s 24/7 hyperbole.   

    On the other hand, his critics in the media give him plenty of cover with stupid crap like first attacking him for NOT going to visit the troops….and then when it is revealed they were wrong as usual the immediately criticize the troops for being too happy to see him!!   

    Season 3 of The Apprentice Washington DC is not going to be boring….but I may still not pay attention to it.  

    • #4
  5. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Trump’s interaction with the Fed makes me nervous, but Mona acts like we could actually get someone in that could manage all of this centralized theft and power, and military adventurism better. I’m skeptical. 

    Plus, I can guarantee she would take back a bunch of those incoherent criticisms of Trump. 

    • #5
  6. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Mona Charen: Do they lie about him? For the most part, no.

    Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime

    This lie is still up on their webpage.

    The thing you are right about is that it should have been taken down. But the comment preceded his trip to Iraq. and I think yesterday was after Christmas. And then there is the preceding Christmas. If something is true, it cannot be called a lie – maybe in an Alice in Wonderland world!

    • #6
  7. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    We have a gay married couple that we spend a lot of time with. They are “the gays”; as in “dinner at the gays tonight”. “The gays stopped by.”

    I referred to them as such in front of my lefty friend. I was chastised for the offensive label. When I told the gays about it, one said: “please thank her for co-opting my outrage. I really don’t know how we manage without people like her letting us know when we’ve been insulted.”

    I thought of that story while reading Mona’s column; my first thought was: where in the world would members of the military be without people like Mona letting them know they’ve been dishonored??

    No, Mona, you dishonor them by patronizing them. 

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    For the most part, no.

    So . . . 51-49?

    • #8
  9. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Mona Charen: In 2014, the Congressional Research Service put the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts at $1.6 trillion. When questioned about the $7 trillion figure, the White House pointed to a paper by Boston University political scientist Neta Crawford. Her work factored together a great deal more than spending on Iraq and Afghanistan. She focused on all of our post-9/11 spending including not just the wars in those two countries, but also State Department and Agency for International Development spending, homeland security expenditures, and war-related veterans care and disability expenses. Still, even adding all of those extras into her calculations, she arrived at a figure of $3.6 trillion by 2016. She then also added something more – the cost of caring for veterans stretching into 2053, and “additional cumulative interest on past appropriations” to reach the number $8 trillion over 35 years.

    The threshold question is what was Crawford totalling: (a) the cost of having to fight the GWOT or (b) the cost of just the portions relating to the decision to go into Iraq and Afghanistan?

    Homeland security expenditures probably qualify under (a) but not (b) as we would be paying them had we not gone into Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Everything else appears a necessary part of (b) and a failure to include would be intellectually dishonest. That being said, on the one hand, I have no confidence that Crawford properly reduced everything to present value. On the other hand, I also have no confidence that she adequately included all costs, including opportunity costs. 

    • #9
  10. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    But the comment preceded his trip to Iraq. and I think yesterday was after Christmas.

    Christmastime = the time around Christmas. Including after.

    • #10
  11. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Annefy (View Comment):
    They are “the gays”; as in “dinner at the gays tonight”. “The gays stopped by.”

    I had a buddy named John Gay. He and his family would have been called “The Gays” as well.

    I wonder if your lefty friend would chastise me too.

    • #11
  12. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Mona Charen: Still, even adding all of those extras into her calculations, she arrived at a figure of $3.6 trillion by 2016. She then also added something more – the cost of caring for veterans stretching into 2053, and “additional cumulative interest on past appropriations” to reach the number $8 trillion over 35 years.

    Makes you wonder what we actually got for President Obama’s $8.5 Trillion.

    • #12
  13. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Trump is more like PT Barnum than Bernie Madoff. Most of us understand that and factor accordingly without personal drama in large part because we do not bear the burden of self-conscious NeverTrumpism which apparently requires a sustained state of indignation. 

    And appearently that “understanding” just prices in habitual lying and contempt for the truth.   

     

    • #13
  14. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    When people who craft the specifics of a policy (the “savings” from Obamacare or the climate impact of the Paris Agreement) toss out bogus numbers, that’s lying. 

    OldB,

    You are quite correct in this. These kinds of lies severely damage 100s of millions of lives for the foreseeable future. Trump’s misstatements are bloviation for temporary political effect. Jonathan Gruber and Ben Rhodes took us behind the curtain back to the realm of truth and honor for just a moment. It was obvious that nobody was left to care about ordinary people’s lives that would be economically brutalized or the extreme danger of releasing a genocidal terror state on the world. 

    Professional pundits who don’t have the guts to face this focus on the trivial to compensate. Almost the entire pundit class for the last 20 years have been worth nothing to the average person. The pundit class has been full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #14
  15. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    “We will repeal Obamacare and make sure there is a stable transition to a truly patient-centered system.” – Paul Ryan 

    ”We’re not going to spend taxpayers’ money on abortion.” – George W. Bush with 8 consecutive years of increasing Title X “family planning” budgets.

    “We will cut the deficit in half in 5 years.” – George W. Bush 2004 SOTU address 

    “I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called ‘nation-building.’” – George W. Bush October 2000

    Only Trump lies. Everyone else just misspeaks.

    • #15
  16. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Mona Charen: Those are some loosey goosey numbers. But even assuming total good faith on Crawford’s part, and assuming Mr. Trump is even aware of her, he is grossly distorting her work. He constantly asserts that we’ve already spent $7 trillion on wars in the “Middle East,” not that our total post-9/11 expenditures on defense, diplomacy, homeland security, and veterans care until 2053 may add up to that.

    O.K. I never read the article. 

    Wouldn’t you like to quiz her on everything we have done since 9/11?

    • #16
  17. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Trump is more like PT Barnum than Bernie Madoff. Most of us understand that and factor accordingly without personal drama in large part because we do not bear the burden of self-conscious NeverTrumpism which apparently requires a sustained state of indignation.

    And appearently that “understanding” just prices in habitual lying and contempt for the truth.

    I’m inclined to agree that he’s fully transitioned into being a politician.  I’m still not clear on the degree to which his misstatements of fact are intentional, which is what constitutes “lying.”

    • #17
  18. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    No more wars unless we intend to colonize. That is my plan. 

    • #18
  19. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Trump is more like PT Barnum than Bernie Madoff. Most of us understand that and factor accordingly without personal drama in large part because we do not bear the burden of self-conscious NeverTrumpism which apparently requires a sustained state of indignation.

    And appearently that “understanding” just prices in habitual lying and contempt for the truth.

    I’m inclined to agree that he’s fully transitioned into being a politician. I’m still not clear on the degree to which his misstatements of fact are intentional, which, as we know, is what constitutes “lying.”

    I find the ability of so many people to rationalize a habitual and shameless liar is really breathtaking. 

    • #19
  20. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Fred Cole (View Comment):

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    Trump is more like PT Barnum than Bernie Madoff. Most of us understand that and factor accordingly without personal drama in large part because we do not bear the burden of self-conscious NeverTrumpism which apparently requires a sustained state of indignation.

    And appearently that “understanding” just prices in habitual lying and contempt for the truth.

    I’m inclined to agree that he’s fully transitioned into being a politician. I’m still not clear on the degree to which his misstatements of fact are intentional, which, as we know, is what constitutes “lying.”

    I find the ability of so many people to rationalize a habitual and shameless liar is really breathtaking.

    As breathtaking as I find the fact that this is supposed to be responsive to what I wrote?

    To be sure, I’ve noticed in the past that so many people who toss the word “lie” and “liar” around become uncomfortable when the intent element of a “lie” is raised.

    • #20
  21. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Fred Cole: I find the ability of so many people to rationalize a habitual and shameless liar is really breathtaking. 

    Please take all of the things that the rational, mainstream GOP has promised for the last 40 years on one side of the page and list all of those delivered on the other.

    An individual who engages in this is a “habitual and shameless liar.” Get an entire party to do it and “Meh. It’s politics.” 

    • #21
  22. DonG Coolidge
    DonG
    @DonG

    Moderator Note:

    Defamatory, gossipy, or rude nicknames for those who disagree with Trump.

    Mona Charen:

    On his visit to Iraq, the president lied to the troops. How can you claim to honor people you are lying to? Lying signals contempt. “We are always going to protect you. And you just saw that, ’cause you just got one of the biggest pay raises you’ve ever received. … You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years. More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

    …Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act which included a 2.4 percent raise. In 2019, the troops will receive a 2.6 percent increase.

    Self-contradicted in the same post.  [Redacted.]  Clearly a specially authorized pay increase for the first time in 10 years.  MAGA!

    • #22
  23. George Townsend Inactive
    George Townsend
    @GeorgeTownsend

    Instugator (View Comment):

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    But the comment preceded his trip to Iraq. and I think yesterday was after Christmas.

    Christmastime = the time around Christmas. Including after.

    If this were Obama, I’d be willing to bet that we would not go out of our way to find excuses.

    By your own words, Christmastime can last until February. Christmas is one day. Not Advent. Christmas. 

    • #23
  24. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Moderator Note:

    Rude and absolutely content-free comment.

    [Redacted.]

    • #24
  25. Joe Pas Inactive
    Joe Pas
    @JoePas

    EJHill (View Comment):

    “We will repeal Obamacare and make sure there is a stable transition to a truly patient-centered system.” – Paul Ryan

    ”We’re not going to spend taxpayers’ money on abortion.” – George W. Bush with 8 consecutive years of increasing Title X “family planning” budgets.

    “We will cut the deficit in half in 5 years.” – George W. Bush 2004 SOTU address

    “I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called ‘nation-building.’” – George W. Bush October 2000

    Only Trump lies. Everyone else just misspeaks.

    I don’t think Mona, or anyone in the thread, said anything of the sort.

    Trump lies. The media lie. Other politicians lie. None of these facts make any of the others false. Comments like this–responses to a perceived attack on President Trump that was never actually said–seem borne from a reflexive instinct to defend him, an instinct grounded in nothing other than a need to defend “our guy.” 

    I understand where it comes from. There are an incredible number of baseless attacks on the president from every corner. Combating lying blue-checks and talking heads could be a full time job. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore reality, and the reality is that Donald Trump lies quite often.

     Making comments in response to some imaginary Never-Trumper doesn’t move the conversation forward–it just makes one seem uncritical to a fault. And dismissing or disregarding Mona’s article (or any other article critical of the president) just because other claims about President Trump might be unfounded makes one look like a lackey.

    Let’s let down our defenses and be objective about the president. We can still support him while admitting he does wrong.

    • #25
  26. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    Government Is How We Steal From Each Other™

     

    • #26
  27. Joe Pas Inactive
    Joe Pas
    @JoePas

    Annefy (View Comment):

    We have a gay married couple that we spend a lot of time with. They are “the gays”; as in “dinner at the gays tonight”. “The gays stopped by.”

    I referred to them as such in front of my lefty friend. I was chastised for the offensive label. When I told the gays about it, one said: “please thank her for co-opting my outrage. I really don’t know how we manage without people like her letting us know when we’ve been insulted.”

    I thought of that story while reading Mona’s column; my first thought was: where in the world would members of the military be without people like Mona letting them know they’ve been dishonored??

    No, Mona, you dishonor them by patronizing them.

    Would you be saying this if we replaced President Trump in this scenario with President Obama? Would we all let it go and feel hunky-dory if he had been the one to say something false to our troops? For some reason, I don’t we would. I think we’d be rightfully outraged. But since President Trump does it, we are supposed to let it go.

    If lying to someone doesn’t also mean you’re dishonoring them then I don’t know where we stand as a nation.

    • #27
  28. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Moderator Note:

    Personal attack.

    EJHill (View Comment):

    “We will repeal Obamacare and make sure there is a stable transition to a truly patient-centered system.” – Paul Ryan

    ”We’re not going to spend taxpayers’ money on abortion.” – George W. Bush with 8 consecutive years of increasing Title X “family planning” budgets.

    “We will cut the deficit in half in 5 years.” – George W. Bush 2004 SOTU address

    “I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called ‘nation-building.’” – George W. Bush October 2000

    Only Trump lies. Everyone else just misspeaks.

    Spot on. [Redacted.]

    • #28
  29. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    George Townsend (View Comment):

    Instugator (View Comment):

    George Townsend (View Comment):
    But the comment preceded his trip to Iraq. and I think yesterday was after Christmas.

    Christmastime = the time around Christmas. Including after.

    If this were Obama, I’d be willing to bet that we would not go out of our way to find excuses.

    By your own words, Christmastime can last until February. Christmas is one day. Not Advent. Christmas.

    Not my words, George, NBC’s words – for which they have appended an editor’s note which reads;

    Editor’s note: On Wednesday, NBC News compiled a list of every Christmastime visit to active troops by a president since 2001. That list, as detailed in the article below, showed that former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama visited troops on or before Christmas every year since 2003, and President Donald Trump did so in 2017. As of the end of Christmas Day 2018, Trump had not visited troops during the holiday season, and had announced no plans to do so. The article was correct, but on Dec. 26, the situation changed. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, made an unannounced visit to troops in Iraq. As a result, the thrust of this article is no longer correct, even if it was at the time. In the interest of transparency, we are keeping the article on NBCNews.com so that the record will reflect the situation on the day the article was published, and are directing readers to the article about Trump’s Iraq visit here. We are also altering one line in the article, as well as the headline, to be more specific and to note that Trump was the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel on or before Christmas, rather than at Christmastime.

    It seems that they consider “Christmastime” to be both before and after Christmas. Almost but not quite in line with the ecclesiastical calendar of 25 December – 5 January (the eponymous 12 days of Christmas).

    Since they are big enough to admit Christmastime is around Christmas, can’t you do the same?

    I am just astonished that they had to change the headline to be even more petty than previous.

    • #29
  30. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Joe Pas: Making comments in response to some imaginary Never-Trumper doesn’t move the conversation forward–it just makes one seem uncritical to a fault. 

    Why are 40 years of lies more forgivable than those uttered since January 20, 2017? And why are those that ignore those lies less a group of enablers than Trump supporters? There are many reasons why Trump’s message resonated during the 2016 GOP primaries and this is one of them. Until his detractors realize and acknowledge that, their hypocrisy deserves to be called out.

    • #30

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